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Western Animation / Captain Star

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Captain Star (1997-1998) was a quirky Anglo-Canadian cartoon parody of Star Trek animated by Cosgrove Hall, which ran for only 13 episodes. Captain Star's mission is to visit exotic planets, name them after himself, and sell stuff. However his superiors have stuck him on a nameless planet at the ragged edge of the universe where he naively waits for his next orders, his ego oblivious to the implications that he has been Kicked Upstairs.

The actual work is done by his second in command Dana Scully-Ersatz (just look at that hair), Only Sane Woman First Officer Scarlette. She is sort of helped by the multi-limbed, multi-headed engineer "Limbs" Jones and navigator Black, a fish-obsessed cook.

Not to be confused with the TUGS character of the same name.

Captain Star provides examples of:

  • 100% Heroism Rating: Star is the most popular person in the entire universe. Mission Control has Captain Star fireworks at the ready. Even the smallest trading posts have lifesize Captain Star statues in the streets. His birthday is made into a pan-universal public holiday. He's so popular that even the guy who plays him on Star of Space is the second-most popular person in the universe just by association with him.
  • Acme Products: Captain Star carries and sells goods by one of these companies, called "Arc".
  • The Ace: A parody of such. Captain Star is called the "greatest hero any world has ever known", and a legendary captain and explorer with hundreds of worlds named after him. Despite being effectively exiled to a remote corner of the universe, he still manages to save the day on numerous occasions. On his Show Within a Show, he's even more so.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: An In-Universe example. The Scarlette portrayed in "Star of Space" is basically a mindless bimbo. Neither the real Scarlette nor her actress agree with this portrayal.
  • Alternate Tooniverse: "Waiting For Sputnik" ends with the titular giant cat flying through a sort of Wormhole and emerging from a catflap in a giant live-action house.
  • Artistic License Physics: This show plays so fast and loose with physics (deliberately, it must be said - the laws of physics are very much like the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway?) it's more surprising when they actually get it right - most notably when Scarlette accurately describes time as a function of the speed of light and the concept of relativity.
    • The most obvious instance of comically shoddy physics is the Low-Flying Moon, which orbits so absurdly low as to audibly zoom past overhead, but somehow has enough density to cause nearby objects to briefly levitate with its gravity.
  • Baby Planet: The Low-Flying Moon isn't much bigger than a person.
  • Bold Explorer: There's nothing Captain Star would rather do than pilot his rocketship across the universe, and it's the one thing Mission Control won't allow. "The Atomic Alarm Clock" makes this clear, as put by the episode's villain, Bloater:
    "What did Mission Control ever do for us? Without it, where would we be? Free! Free to roam the universe!"
    "With Mission Control gone, we could have adventure after adventure!"
    • What makes Captain Star the hero is that he saves Mission Control anyway, although you get the feeling in some of his darker moments a part of him might regret it.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Captain Star is a raging egomaniac and seems at times completely oblivious to the events surrounding him. However, he is still the best captain in the fleet. In Written In The Stars, with the planet about the be destroyed and Scarlette depressed that her first tenure as acting captain is going to result in them all dying, she asks for a hint on how to save the day, and he easily points her in the right direction.
    • The rest of Star's crew are also this. Despite all of them being very eccentric, each of them has kept up with Star as they are exploring. If they had performed any less its doubtful Star would have retained them.
  • Bystander Syndrome: In Written in the Stars, Captain Star dismisses the planet's imminent destruction because he can go back to space.
  • The Captain: Star, in functioning as one of these, also doubles as a skewed parody of Captain Kirk, though an oddly asexual one.
  • Chickification: In-universe. Scarlette is portrayed as a bimbo in the Show Within a Show that dramatises Star's adventures. Subverted in that the actress dislikes having to play her that way and is in fact an avid reader of Scarlette's scientific works.
  • Chronic Pet Killer: The crew have killed hundreds of Sputniks, due to their dangerous missions and not particular forward thinking.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Black. Fairly low key by the standards of this trope, but he's still very "out there". And there is that strange obsession with his fish...
  • Cool Ship: The Boiling Hell, along with virtually every other ship we see.
  • Dismissing a Compliment: In "Day of the Zooties", the carpet entity claims to be a "Deep Pile Speak Your Weight Bedroom Carpet" and tries to flatter Scarlette by telling her she weighs 60 kg (132 lbs) and has an IQ of 280. Scarlette responds by spraying it with a neutralizing chemical.
    Scarlette: "Liar, my IQ is twice that."
  • Egopolis: Star has a habit of naming planets after himself.
  • Every Episode Ending: Each episode ends with Captain Star narrating an extremely subdued summary of the episode's event often with some irony peppered on. Captain Star also does this while sitting on his wheelbarrow and gazing at the stars.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Narration plays over the instrumental theme song, explaining the basic back story of the show:
    "This is the story of Captain Star... the greatest hero any world has ever known.
    Captain Star journeyed the universe in his ship, the Boiling Hell.
    His orders: to discover new worlds, name them after himself, and then sell them things.
    One day the Boiling Hell arrived at the Ragged Edge of the Universe where Captain Star and his crew
    Navigator Black
    Atomic Engine Stoker "Limbs" Jones
    and First Officer Scarlette
    waited for orders from Mission Control.
    And waited...
    And waited...
    And waited..."
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Star is Choleric, Scarlett is Phlegmatic, Black is Sanguine and Jones is Melancholic.
  • Genius Ditz: Jones. An extremely talented engineer and inventor; a bumbling moron and complete idiot in every other aspect of life, with a particularly horrible track record on pets.
  • Inciting Incident: Ned Nova's flight from mission control counts as this. After Ned Nova flees from mission control in order to escape from an enforced retirement; mission control changed their policy on retiring old captains. Captain Star's marooning on the nameless planet is apparently now how they deal with retiring certain captains who are adventurers at heart.
  • In Medias Res: It is never made clear just how long the crew have been waiting for their orders, but by the time we join them on the Nameless Planet, it's clearly been quite a while. The nearest hint we get is in the episode with everybody's birthdays - which would seem to indicate they've been waiting for less than a year. (In the original comics from which the series was adapted, they've been waiting for eleven years).
  • The Kirk: Captain Star, obviously.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone in the crew, despite having adventured together for decades. It's often lampshaded that they know very little about each other personally, and don't much care for each other either.
  • Local Hangout: Black's Cafe, if only by default.
  • The McCoy: Black.
  • Mega-Corp: Mission Control appears to be the military arm of one of these, known only as "Arc". Presumably "Arc" is also One Nation Under Copyright, though this is never explicitly stated. Note that this also makes Mission Control the opposite of the Federation, which is often described as Communistic.
  • Multiple Head Case: Jones has nine heads and a few extra arms, potentially as a result of spending too much time around a highly radioactive engine.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In a few episodes, Star seems to indicate (through his actions, if never explicitly in words) that he is aware of Mission Control effectively marooning him on the Nameless Planet, and that his orders will never come. Perhaps he keeps up the charade for the benefit of his crew, who all seem genuinely unaware of this (even the otherwise very intelligent Scarlette).
  • Only One Name: Scarlette and Black.
  • Only Sane Woman: Scarlette.
  • Planet Spaceship: Mission Control is implied to be this from the image shown on the atomic alarm clock, and Scarlette's description of it as "the largest object in Creation".
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Many of the villainous characters will disparage Jones as a "nine-headed freak", or similar.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The concept of the series is that the crew has befallen this trope, but none of them seem to have realized it. Captain Star himself might be aware of it, but decides not to speak up lest the morale of his crew suffer.
  • Reassignment Backfire: For whatever reason Captain Star always finds trouble that needs resolving despite being on a barren nameless planet; and sometimes finds himself going back into space to solve it.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In The Gravity of the Situation, Star receives a teddy bear which he thinks has his orders, and spends the episode interrogating the stuffed animal, while everyone else assumes it's because the captain is suffering from boredom-induced depression. At the end of the episode when Star cheers up, he throws the bear away, and it turns out the bear was a scout for an alien invasion; so everyone was wrong about the bear, but Star's attempted interrogation was right anyway. The bears then have their own example when the scout tells his commanders that Star is a major badass and should be avoided; he's right that Star is a badass, but was wrong in thinking Star was onto them.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Captain Star who is normally dogmatic about following mission control's orders does this to help his old captain Ned Nova. Using technicalities Star reports that Ned Nova is not the man that they found; since Ned Nova would normally be in his 100s yet due to his encasement in worm goo is still around 50-60 years old. Captain Star lets him go to continue adventuring in the stars.
  • Show Within a Show: Star of Space, a televised depiction of the crew's adventures. Generally inaccurate in both historical recreation and characterization, but the crew watch anyway.
  • Stellar Name: Captain Star, duh.
  • Take That!: A couple of subtle digs at - of all people - William Shatner, who plays Star's direct inspiration:
    • In "The Gravity of the Situation", Star's depression has led him to become so dense that he has sunken through the floor of his workshop - but the top of his head (more specifically his hair) still protrudes out from below. Scarlette immediately pegs it as his toupee even as Jones protests that his hair was all his own - a reference to the longstanding debates over whether or not Shatner wore a hairpiece on Star Trek.
    • In "A Galaxy of Stars", a send-up of Trekkie fandom in general, we finally meet the cast of Star of Space, including Kenneth Shed, who plays Star. Like Shatner, he has a titanic ego even larger than the private planet on which he lives, and (allegedly) like Shatner, he wears a toupee to play Star and is as bald as an eagle without it.
  • The Spock: Scarlette.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Halibut Surprise, which appears to be the only dish served at Black's Cafe.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Mission Control seems to think this of those over a certain age, whether or not it's actually true. In days of yore, they had a mandatory retirement policy; eventually they switched to Reassigned to Antarctica.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Captain Star is kidnapped and forced to take part in a Captain Star lookalike contest at a Captain Star fan convention - nobody there actually believes he's the real Captain Star except for a small boy who is later able to help his crew when they come to rescue him. Even his crew can't tell which of the contestants is him until he says Something Only They Would Say. (To be fair, it also takes him a minute to figure out which one of the many Scarlettes, Blacks, and Joneses are the right ones.) He loses the contest, albeit because it's been rigged; many of the other contestants (and even the producers of the show Star of Space, who are looking to replace their primadonna lead) are all very impressed with him.